图书图片
PDF

bles or difficulties; her own were too overwhelming to allow attention to any others. Her progress had been but slight in comparison with her wishes or her exertions, and she had scarcely accomplished more than half the distance to the cemetery, when the cry of" Crevasse! Crevasse !" was hoarsely shouted in her ears by a man, who ran past her at the top of his speed. This startling word added greatly to the existing terror of the drooping woman, and she fell prostrate upon the door-sill of the nearest house, fainting with suffering and fatigue. She was soon perceived by the family and carried in, the citizens being very generally watchful at such moments, either to succour the helpless and distressed, or to laugh at the precipitate movements of those who are unwilling to receive such duckings upon broadcloth. ,r y^J,'., . ,*

Whilst the cries of" Crevasse!" were multiplying with the increasing sense of danger, too well understood in those days by the inhabitants of New Orleans, the poor widow was kindly and tenderly cared for under the hospitable roof of a wealthy lady; and while dry clothing and restoratives were being provided for her, little Leopold was not so lucky in misfortune. The city had become at once in a convulsed condition of excitement and apprehension, from the announcement by many voices that the longfeared crevasse had at last taken place. For some weeks, rumour, with her many exaggerating tongues, had alarmed the timid, and roused the preparations of the prudent, with unfounded reports of a break in the Levee at one point or another above the town. The high state of the waters in the Mississippi at this season of floods, gave good grounds for fear, and now they were destined to be realized by this sweeping and frightful visitation. So well is the danger of a crevasse understood on the Mississippi, that the dwellings, and particularly those out of the city in isolated situations, are built upon piers, with hydraulic cement, eight or ten feet high, which brings the first floors above high-water mark. In the city of New Orleans this may be the reason why the basement story, in those days of insecurity, was generally devoted to horses and cows, while the family resided above them.

But to return to Leopold. Intent upon the strict performance of the duty entrusted to him, he had quickly reached his little sister's tomb, and the fresh flowers were disposed of according to his mother's directions. He had murmured the inward prayer, and rubbing off the tear from his cheek, he started on his return homeward. Not many paces from the gate of the cemetery, Leopold encountered boys at play. The marble-ring and chalked fingers were rare and seducing sights to one of his domestic habits, and he stopped but a brief

vOL. vI. 17

moment, as he thought, to observe them, while interest in the scene made him a poor judge how rapidly the minutes were passing away.

The cemetery was situated in the lowest ground about New Orleans, and presented at the period we speak of, an appearance quite peculiar to itself, and very different from such domiciles for the dead, at the North. The shallow earth did not permit the digging of graves,* and hence the bodies are disposed of (we cannot say buried) above the ground in a species of ovens or narrow vaults, several of which often cluster together, both side by side and over one another; a few are sufficiently spacious to bear some resemblance upon the surface of the earth, to our vaults below it. The shrubs and flowers indigenous to the climate, ornament the grounds, but the deficiency of shade trees, and especially of solemn lofty evergreens, deprived the spot of an important feature, lending an air of sanctity and quietude such as belong to "Laurel Hill" and "Mount Auburn."

The storm came up suddenly, as we have said, and it had begun to rain quite fast ere Leopold was conscious of it, and when, with the rest of the boys, he felt its rapid increase, in his momentary fright at seeing himself thus caught unprotected, he started to run with all possible speed, as he thought, towards his home. But he had unluckily gone up the wrong street, at right angles with that he should have taken to reach his mother's house, and was unconsciously directing his course towards a bayou or basin on the outskirts of the town. The increasing rain and fast-swelling waters hastened him along, and amounted to a stream that would have greatly impeded his progress had he been going in the opposite direction; but its even more unfortunate tendency was towards the low grounds of the bayou, and when, after a short time, there came added to the rain, a sudden and heavy rush of waters in the rear of poor little Leopold, he was soon overtaken by a strong, irresistible current, and his feet were oarried from under him. The efforts of the alarmed boy to regain his footing were unavailing, and his resisting limbs were overpowered by the violence with which he was, from time to time, thrown against projecting

* It is among the painful talc* connected with this fact, that at periods of great mortality from the yellow fever, a summary mode of disposing of the dead was adopted, by opening a small hole about eighteen inches square, and of no greater depth, into which one end of the coffin being placed, a single kick from the undertaker at once and effectually finished tho job. The coffin instantly disappeared, and the same opening admitted of as many repetitions of the same quick ceremony as might be needed. But whether any increased faith in the theory of Captain Semmcs and his big hollow at the north pole, resulted to the people of Louisiana from this mysterious disposition of their dead, we are unable to determine.

fragments of trees or other obstructions encountered as they were hurled along, by the swollen, discoloured torrent. The little sufferer was deprived of all sensibility, and his piteously bruised and lacerated person was now unresistingly tossed about and hurried onward by the muddy stream, amid logs and portions of buildings or trees, into the bayou, where the angry element sought its level.

Meanwhile the cries of "Crevasse!" had sounded in the ears of Mrs. Morel with fearful associations of danger to her precious boy, until the loss of all consciousness gave the relief of temporary death. When sufficiently recovered, the presence of strange faces around her brought back the reality of her sad position. Her first words were to call for Leopold, whilst the frantic manner and unintelligible nature of her demand, to the strangers with whom she now chanced to be, gave rise to the thought that they had sheltered a poor maniac. When the distressed mother more calmly insisted upon personally going in search of her Leopold, at a moment when the streets were scarcely safe to the stoutest man, there remained no doubt in the minds of those around her, as to the nature of the duty they had to perform. Gentle but positive restraint was now resorted to, and the suffering stranger, while in a supposed lucid interval, was promised that efforts more effective than her own should at once be made, to find her lost Leopold. Orders were accordingly given in her hearing, but with the accompanying wink that negatives their fulfilment, that the servants of the house should with all possible speed and assistance, go towards the cemetery in search of the lost boy.

The poor afflicted widow gradually sank into a state of calm submission to the will of heaven; her good sense told her how vain were her own individual exertions to aid in finding her son, and her drooping heart seemed yet sustained by hope, and her burning brain relieved by tears. Her mind dwelt unavoidably upon the dreadful consequences to life and property that had been known to follow a serious break or crevasse in the Levee, occasioned by a sudden or great rise in the Mississippi; and then she would attempt to persuade herself, against her better judgment, that possibly Leopold had been able to reach his home before the severity of the storm, or at least before the greater danger from the crevasse.

The Levee, banking out the river and reclaiming thousands of acres of valuable land between its channel and the more or less distant bluffs, consists of artificial mounds, thrown up, and composed of cypress logs and clay, to the height of about fifteen feet, and thirty at their base. At New Orleans, the spring floods often create a rise of twelve feet in the Mississippi, causing the singular spectacle of a city lying as many feet below the threatening level of that mighty stream first seen by De Soto, which receives the swelling waters of numerous tributaries, during its circuitous and hurried course of more than three thousand miles.

For the two or three succeeding days after that on which the Widow Morel was left under the surveillance of strangers, who had mistaken her misery for madness, the flooded city was still navigated by small boats; and each day brought intelligence to the housed inhabitants, of newly discovered calamities. Among these painful recitals was one of a fair-haired boy, apparently nine years of age, drowned in the bayou, whose body, rescued by two sailors, remained unclaimed by his friends. This sad story, on the third day of the flood, reached the mansion where Mrs. Morel was still a guest against her will, and at the moment too when its misjudging inmates had succeeded in securing a place in the lunatic department of the hospital, for the bereaved mother whom Heaven had permitted them thus accidentally to succour.

Expressions of regret and well-founded sympathy now came too late, as they mostly do, when deep and irreparable injuries or neglect have been inflicted. The opulent are as helpless in restoring life, as the poor and suffering to whom it is equally precious; and the bereaved mother heard the idle words, feeling that God alone could bring quiet or resignation to her lonely heart.

Each succeeding spring, for some years after the date of our story, a fragile pale woman might be seen strewing fresh flowers upon an unostentatious tomb, where more newly-made letters from the sculptor's chisel had added to the words "My Emma," those of "Mv LroTold," with only these simple lines:

"Twins In a mother's love and care,
Though doomed this narrow grave to share,

Their spirits shall in union rise,
To claim the mansion of the skies."

THE

BY MBS. C.

Huerah for too snow, the winter iDow,

It cometh with stealthy tread,
It oovers the ground with a robe of white,
It falleth between as and the light.

And it whirleth overhead.

SNOW.

H. Es LING.

It peepcth in at the window pane,

It lodgeth upon the sill,
And we sing, as its white flakes come and go,
Hurrah for the snow, the winter enow,

Though its stormy breath be chill

[graphic]

CHRIST BLESSING THE CHILDREN.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

Iw many strange and gentile lands, MIcah v. 8.

Where Jacob's scattered sons are driven, Jer. xxiii. 8.

With longing eyes and lifted hands, Lam. !.17.

They wait Messiah's sign from heaven. Matt. xxiv. 30

The cup of fury they have quaffed, Isa. li. !7.

Till fainted like a weary flock: Isa. 11. 20.
But Heaven will soon withdraw the

draught, Isa. li. 22.

And glvo them waters from the rock. Exod. xvu. 6.

What though their bodies, as the ground, Isa. li. 23.

Th' Assyrian long has trodden o'er! Isa. lii. 4.

Zion, a captive daughter bound, Isa. lii. 2.

Shall riSM to know her wrong no more. Isa liv. 3, 4.

The veil is passing from her eyes, 2 Cor. ii i. 16.

The King of Nation* she shall see: Zech, xiv. 9.

Judea! from the dust arise! Isa. lii. 2.

Thy ransomed sons return to thee! Jer. xxxl. 17.

How gorgeous shall thy laud appear, Isa. liv. 12.

When, like the jewels of a bride, Isa. xlix. 18.

Thy broken bands, all gathered there, Zech. xl. 14.

Shall clothe thy hills on every sidel Isa. xlix. 18.

When on thy mount, as prophets taught, Isa. xxiv. 23.

Shall shine the throne of David's son; Ezek. xxxvil. 22.

The Gospel's latest triumphs brought, MIcah It. 2.

Where first its glorious course begun. Luke xxiv. 47.

Gentiles and kings who thee oppressed, Isa. lx. 14.

Shall to thy gates with praise repair; Isa. Ix. 11.

A fold of flock* shall Sharon rest Isa. Ixt. 10.

And clustered fruits its vineyards bear. Joel ii. 22.

Then shall an Eden morn illume Isa. !. 3.

Earth's fruitful vales, without a thorn: lea. lv. 13.

The wilderness rejoice and bloom, Isa. xxxv. 1.

j And nations in a day be born. Zech. ii. 11.

The Lord his holy arm makes bare; Isa. lii. 10.

■ Zion! thy cheerful songs employ! Zeph. Iii. 14.

Thy robes of bridal beauty wear, Isa. iii. 1.

And shout, ye ransomed race, for joy 1 Isa. 111. 9.

« 上一页继续 »